Education: Frightfully Gamesy

Victorians were appalled, but the Lawrence sisters saw their duty and did it. Nellie, Millie and Dollie Lawrence thought that young English ladies were too delicately nurtured; what they needed was a more robust schooling—the kind Eton gave to boys. On a breeze-bathed seacoast near Brighton, in 1885, the sisters built their new Roedean (rhymes with so keen) School.

In time the bouncy, bumpy Roedean Girl became a national byword, as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and the butt of music-hall skits. She wore a bright-colored, shapeless wool Mother Hubbard called a...

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